Official Visit Macron and Charles III narrow the distance between France and the United Kingdom

In 1957, the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, went to France on her first official visit, four years after being crowned

Official Visit Macron and Charles III narrow the distance between France and the United Kingdom

In 1957, the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, went to France on her first official visit, four years after being crowned. She was received by the then president, René Coty. The Palace of Versailles, where they dined and where she later returned years later, she described as follows: "It is a charming mixture of what is both similar and different in our countries."

All that pomp and circumstance, so French and British at the same time, was repeated this Wednesday, including dinner at Versailles, in a sequence in which the protagonists changed, but not the substance of the visit: reinforcing the historical alliance between both countries.

The King of England, Charles III, and Camilla, were received with full honors by Emmanuel Macron and the first lady, Brigitte Macron, at the start of a visit that will last three days. It is the first that Carlos III makes to the country as King, after the death of his mother just a year ago. It should have been held last March, but France was experiencing violent demonstrations against Macron's pension reform at that time and it had to be suspended for security reasons. For this occasion there was a deployment to match: 30,000 agents.

The objective is to shine a light on the Franco-British union, which has been somewhat weakened after the United Kingdom left the European Union. The timing for both countries is perfect. 2024 marks 120 years of the entente cordiale, which marked the end of hostilities between London and Paris and the beginning of a peaceful and friendly relationship. Also that year is the anniversary of the Normandy landings, when the Allies crossed from England to France and liberated the country (and Europe) from Nazi occupation. The former British minister Denis Mcshane defined this love-hate relationship in the following way: «France and England are like an old marriage. Sometimes they want to kill each other, but they would never consider a divorce.

The royal sequence began with an event at the Arc de Triomphe, where the King of England lit the flame of the unknown soldier, the anthems of both countries were heard and the fighters paraded. A car tour of the Champs-Elysées followed (Macron and Charles III, in one car; Camilla and Brigitte, in another).

A 25-meter red carpet awaited them at the Elysée. President and monarch held a meeting, lasting approximately one hour, the content of which has not been revealed. According to the Elysée, it was planned to address issues of international interest such as the situation in the Sahel, after the latest coups in Niger and Gabon, and the war in Ukraine. In principle, migratory tensions between both countries would be left out.

In this palatial pomp, full of protocols and monarchical nods, monarch and sovereign found their point of union. Charles III had visited France on other occasions, but as a prince. Yesterday's sequence was full of symbols and details: from the car ride through the Elysée, the dinner menu, to the gifts: Macron offered Charles III a novel by Romain Gary, Goncourt Prize winner: The Roots of Heaven, one of his favorite works. Brigitte gave Camila a bottle of champagne from the year she was born.

The day culminated with a dinner at the Palace of Versailles, in the Hall of Mirrors, attended by more than a hundred select guests, including Mick Jagger, Ken Follet, Hugh Grant, and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Also the prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, and ministers from both delegations. On the menu: seafood, poultry and a dessert from the famous pâtissier Pierre Hermé.

Hours earlier, when they were leaving the Elysée, Macron and Charles III did something unusual: they walked together on foot the few meters that separate the presidential palace from the British embassy. They took the opportunity to shake some hands and say hello. "Long live the King," was heard in the street. On one of her visits, Queen Elizabeth II had said of the two countries, monarchy and republic: "Although it is true that we do not drive on the same side, it is also true that we circulate on the same road."

This Wednesday was the first sequence of a three-day royal visit. This Thursday includes the speech of King Charles III in the French Senate and a visit to the exterior of the Notre Dame Cathedral, which is in the process of rehabilitation after the fire of 2019. He will be accompanied by Emmanuel Macron.

The French first lady, Brigitte Macron, and Queen Camilla will visit the île de la cité flower market, where Queen Elizabeth II has already been. Then they will attend together the launch of the Franco-British literary awards that will see their first edition in 2024. It will be at the Library of France.

Before that, they will make a brief visit to Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris, where they will meet with representatives of a women's association. On Friday, Charles III and Camilla will travel to Bordeaux and then Emmanuel Macron will be heading to Marseille, to receive Pope Francis. He will leave his royal stage behind to receive the Supreme Pontiff on Saturday.